Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Four Important Reasons Reform Jewish Leaders Should Attend the Biennial



With the High Holiday season behind us, I hope that every service and event was meaningful and beautiful for you and your entire congregational family.

Now, take a quick breather and then consider these four important reasons to attend the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial 2015, taking place November 4-8 in Orlando, FL.

  1. Focused, practical leadership training tailored to lay, professional, clergy, and up-and-coming leaders, with workshops concentrated around these four tracks: strengthening congregations, audacious hospitality, tikkun olam, and – in partnership with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) – “transforming texts.”

You’ll be able to pick and choose sessions that best address your congregation’s specific needs and return home with knowledge to share, and with new resources, ideas, and tools to put them to use in your congregation. (Browse all learning sessions.)

These keynote speakers – associated with the various tracks – will share their vast expertise and experience with congregational leaders:

A special Youth Social Action Symposium, geared for both adults and teens, will focus on millennials, and ways to harness their passion, the power of their spirit, and their drive to enact meaningful and significant change on behalf of social justice in our world.

  1. Community building will enable every attendee from the nearly 500 congregations that will be represented at Biennial to rub elbows with leaders from other congregations, many of whom face the same challenges – and perhaps have some viable solutions to share. In addition, you’ll share wonderful experiences and special moments with others from your own congregation – forming new relationships and enriching connections you already have with folks from home.
  1. A Shabbat like no other, beginning with Kabbalat Shabbat that will bring our entire Biennial community of 5,000 souls together for spirited worship and singing followed by a festive Shabbat dinner and Biennial song session. Worship will continue on Shabbat morning, with a variety of terrific lunch speakers and unique activities from which to choose rounding out our day of rest.
  1. Outstanding speakers and incredible music, always highlights of Biennial, will, of course, be mainstays in Orlando. Michael Douglas, Academy Award-winning actor, inclusion activist, and Reform Jew will share his inspiring story of coming to his faith later in life, and how important the spirituality and awareness of Reform Judaism has become to him and his family. Neshama Carlebach, Josh Nelson, Knesset member Stav Shaffir, Chester Elton, and Chuck Todd of Meet the Press – who will host a forum for 2016 U.S. presidential candidates – are among the other terrific presenters, worship leaders, and musicians whose presence will ensure incredible worship, engaging presentations, and lots and lots of wonderful Jewish music throughout the Biennial!

One final note: As a result of our first-ever delegation incentive program, we’re excited to welcome to Orlando 129 congregations – 31 of which include teens as attendees – that qualified for delegation benefits by the early bird deadline. In addition to maximizing their shared experience, congregational delegations are demonstrating a wonderful commitment to make meaningful investments in their current and future leaders and to transform their synagogues in significant ways.

Biennial registration closes on October 23rd, so if you haven’t done so already, register now for what surely will be not only the largest Jewish gathering in North America, but also an incredible, transformative experience for all.

I look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

About Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the URJ. See his full bio and other writings on the URJ website.

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